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Bucks 99, Bulls 97: a near ugly-win. By that I mean they were certainly ugly, but lost

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Pace Eff eFG FT/FG OREB% TOr
Chicago 89.0 109.0 43.8% 33.8 40.0 15.7
Milwaukee 111.2 47.8% 12.0 37.7 11.2

 

Lindsey Hunter played the entire 4th quarter. That's basically all one needs to know when it comes to determining how an NBA game can be lost. The Bulls have major depth issues and it comes to a head when not only Hunter is required to play at all, or significant minutes, but he actually shares a backcourt with Jannero Pargo (0-3 in 11 minutes. As Barney Gumble once said to Lisa Simpson: "Go back to Russia!").

But, overall, Lindsey was an improbable +6 for the night, and though it may not have been old-man tricks but just random chance, his strategy of chucking the ball as hard as he could at the backboard so Joakim Noah could rebound and score was working. In one of the Bulls final possessions, Hunter took an ill-advised (dubbed so by me as it was a field-goal attempt) leaner that wound up back at the 3-point line for Salmons to hit one of the teams two threes of the night.

After the foul shot dance of late-game deficits, in their final possession the Bulls found themselves down two and Derrick Rose passed to a wide-open Brad Miller who front-rimmed a jumper. I guess it was a bit of irony that Miller for once wasn't the old Bull overused in the 2nd half, as that went to Hunter...yet he still didn't seem to have his legs under that shot. Again, Hunter played the entire 4th quarter. I criticize VDN for a lot of things, but failing in a 'ride the hot hand' strategy is not one of them. I think he's mostly done a good job of identifying his best guys and going to them, not who happens to be 'hot' that night. But he definitely stayed with what was working tonight, and the question is then was Hunter actually doing that well? Even if so, it just meant a higher likelihood that he'd return to dust. 

But while Hunter was inexplicably on the floor on an offensive lineup substitution in the Bulls final try, another story is Rose passing instead of shooting in that posession. Him doing that doesn't bother me, what did was his complete disappearance in the first half, scoring 2 points in a game where he had to know he'd have to (even moreso than usual) pick up the scoring load for his undermanned team. I don't mind the mindset that brings an occasional deference on a given possession, but Rose seems to drift through entire stints on the floor. (With nobody else being a meanie and taking the ball from him either)

But Rose did recover and had himself a fairly stellar 2nd half, and outperformed Brandon Jennings in that span. In fact, if we're still sticking (and I'm trying to) to the mindset that only Rose/Deng/Noah truly matter anymore on this team, then it was a pretty good night. But the Bucks have 3 point shooting (including slight PFs, as Ilyasova and Warrick must be Skiles dream...though not quite Malik Allen dreamy), as well as a big they can devote possessions to in Andrew Bogut. The Bulls have no such options, and I don't need to go into their designed inefficiency after every single game. I almost feel bad when they came close in this one, that's how bad they look.